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Judge strikes down Kansas ban on dismemberment abortions

Judge strikes down Kansas ban on dismemberment abortions

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (c), signed Senate Bill 95 banning dismemberment abortions on Tuesday April 7, 2015. |

A judge has struck down a Kansas law that banned a common abortion procedure known as a dilation and evacuation abortion or a dismemberment abortion.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Teresa Watson issued the ruling on Wednesday, granting a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the law, which was passed in 2015.

According to Watson, the dismemberment abortion ban was problematic due in part to the lack of alternative abortion procedures that are considered safer for the woman.

“Banning dismemberment abortion is not narrowly tailored solution to the compelling state interest Defendants seek to address because, according to the evidence before the Court, it would leave no alternative for second trimester abortions other than more complicated, less reliable, less tested, and higher risk procedures,” wrote Watson.

“… tearing a living unborn child apart and removing the pieces is a horrible death, but so is death by induced labor or cesarean section prior to viability, cutting the umbilical cord, or injecting lethal chemicals into the womb or into the heart of the unborn child.”

Watson also cited a ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court, which concluded that the state constitution guaranteed a fundamental right to an abortion.

“Under the Kansas Supreme Court’s interpretation of Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights, and requisite application of the strict scrutiny standard to the uncontroverted facts as found by this Court, the Act is unconstitutional and unenforceable,” concluded Watson.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion group that helped to represent the plaintiffs, celebrated the ruling in a statement released Wednesday.

“The Kansas Supreme Court was loud and clear in 2019: abortion is protected as a fundamental right under the Kansas state constitution,” Northup said. “Today’s decision reaffirms that ruling and ensures that Kansans have access to the best abortion care. This ban made it a crime for doctors to use their best medical judgment. This is not about medicine, it’s purely political.”

Pro-life activists, among them Brittany Jones of the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, viewed the decision as evidence that the state needs to pass the Value Them Both Amendment.

Slated for the state ballot in 2022, the amendment declares that the Kansas state constitution does not recognize a right to abortion or the taxpayer-funding of abortion.

“Value Them Both is the option, it is our only option,” stated Jones, as reported by “We’re not surprised in any way shape or form. This is what we’ve been telling legislators for two years now, and we had legislators who doubted us. Now we have proof that we were exactly correct.”

In April 2015, then Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed the dismemberment abortion ban, known as Senate Bill 95, into law after it was overwhelmingly passed by both chambers.

"SB 95 bans a particularly gruesome abortion method in which a living unborn child in her mother's womb is ripped apart into pieces by an abortionist using sharp metal tools," said Kathy Ostrowski, Kansans for Life's legislative director, back in 2015.

Pro-abortion groups denounced the new law and in June 2015, abortionists Herb Hodes and Traci Nauser of the Overland Park Center for Women's Health filed a suit against Kansas over the new law.

"A woman seeking an abortion affected by the Act would be unable to effectuate her choice without submitting to more complex and risky procedure," read the lawsuit in part.

"The Act violates the rights of Plaintiffs' patients guaranteed by the Kansas Constitution by infringing on their rights to bodily integrity, access to abortion and equal protection, and further violates Plaintiffs' rights to due process and equal protection."

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